MTJA airfield flow and relief operations


Here’s a brief update to my prior post on the Jacmel aerodrome, as I have become aware of additional information. There are a number of good articles from multiple sources, each providing lots of good information. (Specifically a January 30th article in the Winnipeg Free Press; a January 29th article from Agence France-Presse; a January 19th article in the Globe & Mail; and an undated DND press release.)

I will collate and summarise the data points below to make it easier to comprehend, so that one does not have to flip between the various sources to get the big picture.

  • The strat-lifters (CC-150, CC-177) typically operate between CFB Trenton (CYTR) and Norman Manley Intl Airport (MKJP) in Kingston, Jamaica. The tac-lifters (CC-130) then take the cargo from Kingston to Jacmel. (See map below for more details.)
  • The CF installed airfield lighting at Jacmel in order to permit 24-hour flight operations; a fueling station has also been set up.
  • HMCS Halifax remains on station in Baie de Jacmel, providing radar coverage for air traffic separation.
  • CFB Trenton is burning through 500,000 litres of fuel a day. Keep in mind, though, that this is for all of CFB Trenton’s flight operations (training, flights to Afghanistan, etc), not just those relating to Haiti.
  • MGen Yvan Blondin elected to have Canadian Forces aircraft utilise Jacmel; USAF had previously surveyed the field and decided that its 3,300ft asphalt runway was too soft to handle the stress of high optempo, and too short to provide adequate margin of error for tactical airlifters.
  • CF engineers determined that the runway could sustain regular CC-130 operations, so long as the aircraft’s total weight (aircraft, fuel and payload) does not exceed 100,000 lbs / 45,359 kg.
  • The minimum landing distance for a CC-130H with a 100,000lb payload is approximately 3100 feet (1000 foot touchdown zone, 2100 foot rollout distance). This gives pilots a 200 foot margin of error.
  • The aerodrome has handled up to 64 aircraft movements in a single day.  This breaks down as 2.67 movements every hour, or one every 23 minutes.
  • The runway is already pitting and suffering damage from the optempo surge. High optempo is likely to last for 60 days and slacken thereafter.

Here’s an image I created using data from the Great Circle Mapper, showing approximate transit times for CF flights.

And another pre-earthquake image of Jacmel’s tiny terminal and apron.

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